Death with Dignity
True death with dignity is trusting in our Lord God that He is seeing to the perfect timing of our personal death. We find dignity in God’s will. Nowhere else!
My life is a gift. My body is a gift. My life and my body do not belong to me. They belong to God. We exist to give Him glory. We are bought and paid for!
“Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you since you received him from God. You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God”
(1 Corinthians 6:19–20, JB).
God’s perfect plan, His molding of His Magnum Opus, His masterpiece, which is what each of us are, which is what you are, what you were created and nurtured every moment of your life to be, is not fully complete until our natural death, including our very last moment, our very last breath, our very last thought.
Every moment of our lives is a gem. Every moment is unique. God has big plans for every moment of our lives, unequivocally none excluded. Life is beautiful. It is a gift.
“We know that by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him” (Romans 8:28, JB).
Here are some of the relevant teachings of the Catholic Church on this subject:
2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.
2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.
2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.
Incidentally, the Church is highly in favor of utilizing advances in the field of medicine to control and alleviate pain and suffering of patients.
2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.
Jesus, I Trust in You!
Here is one example of why every last moment of our lives until it’s a natural end is so important. These may be the moments that bring us to salvation.
Excerpt from Through the Year with Fulton Sheen: Inspirational Readings for each day of the year.
A Divine Invasion
A woman wrote to me about her brother, saying that he was dying in a hospital and that he had been away from the sacraments for about thirty years. She said he led not just a bad life, but he was an evil man. He did much to corrupt youth and circulated all manner of evil pamphlets among the young to destroy both faith and morals. His sister said that about twenty priests had called on him, and he threw them all out of the hospital room.
“So will you please go?” Last-resort Sheen, I am. I visited him this particular night and stayed about five seconds, because I knew that I would fare no better than anyone else. But instead of just making one visit, I made forty. For forty straight nights I went to see this man. The second night I stayed ten or fifteen seconds. I increased my visits by several seconds every night. At the end of the month I was spending ten to fifteen minutes with him. But I never once broached the subject of his soul until the fortieth night. That night I brought with me the Blessed Sacrament and the holy oils, and I said to him,
‘William, you are going to die tonight.”
He said, “I know it.”
I said, “I’m sure you want to make your peace with God tonight.”
He replied, “I do not. Get out.”
I said, “I’m not alone.”
“Who’s with you?” he asked.
“I brought the good Lord along. Do you want him to get out too?”
He said nothing. So I knelt down alongside of his bed for about fifteen minutes because I had the Blessed Sacrament with me. After the prayer, I again said,
“William, I’m sure you want to make your peace with God before you die.”
He refused and started screaming for the nurse. So in order to stop him I ran to the door as if I were going to leave. Then I quickly came back. I put my head down alongside of his face on the pillow, and I said,
“Just one thing, William. Promise me, before you die tonight you will say, ‘My Jesus, mercy.’”
He said, “I will not. Get out.”
I had to leave. I told the nurse that if he wanted me during the night, I would come back. About four o’clock in the morning the nurse called, and she said he just died.
I asked her how he died.“Well,” she said, “about a minute after you left he began saying, ‘My Jesus, mercy’, and he never stopped saying it until he died.” There was nothing in me that influenced him. Here was a divine invasion upon someone who had the faith once and lost it.